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"The Whole Nine Yards"

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by teflon97239, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. teflon97239

    teflon97239 Portland, OR Well-Known Member

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    Maybe this has been done before. Maybe not. I'm fascinated by word and phrase origins. Expressions people use like:

    - Wet your whistle.
    - Sleep tight.
    - Tongue in cheek.
    - Top brass.

    For instance, I've heard a number of seemingly plausible explanations for "the whole nine yards."

    - 9 square yards of main sail on a wooden ship.
    - 9 cubic yards of capacity in an oldschool dumptruck.
    - Something to do with a bolt of fabric.
    - 27 feet of belted ammo in each wing of a WWII fighter plane (surely my favorite).

    Rather than viewing pasted citations from OED or wikipedia, I'm more interested in collective lore. Should be no shortage of opinions here I reckon.
     
  2. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Prior to bed mattresses the support was a woven rope arrangement that needed to be tightened to retain firmness - therefore - 'sleep tight'
    At some point in England the mugs in the pubs would have whistles molded into the the handle to signal the barkeep - so 'wet your whistle'

    I suspect 'top brass' is/was of military origin.

    'Tounge in cheek' - I never did understand this one.
     
  3. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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  4. cyclesurvival

    cyclesurvival Vancouver Well-Known Member

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    A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
     
  5. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    If you can get two hands in the bush.........never mind......
     
  6. VW_Factor

    VW_Factor Woodburn Oregon Active Member

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    There are a lot of phrases and "names" that came from servicemen while at war.... (Cup of Joe, etc).. I'd be willing to bet its military related, especially after reading some wikis.
     
  7. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I too have heard the story about 27 feet in a ammo belt, but there was in reality no standard magazine size. The size of the stow area was determined by wing chord and center of gravity of each particular plane and of course the caliber of weapon. The early P-40s had two .30 cals in each wing and 2 .50 cals in the engine cowling. P-51s had 6 .50s, P-47s had 8. etc.
     
  8. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

    Came from the old cannonball stacking mold called a brass monkey. As water froze and expanded in the stack, it would force the cannonballs to roll off, hence the term, "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey..."

    At least that's how I always heard it. I like it anyway...
     
  9. lowly monk

    lowly monk Beaverton, Oregon. Just a guy. Bronze Supporter

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    Mind your p,s and Q,s
    Pints and Quarts.
    Dont get to drunk, You might get stupid.
     
  10. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    "Show him the ropes" From indoctrinating a rookie sailor on the standing and running rigging on a sailing ship. "He knows the ropes" An experienced sailor.
     
  11. VW_Factor

    VW_Factor Woodburn Oregon Active Member

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    snopes.com: Brass Monkeys
     
  12. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    I was always under the impression that the pease and queues were referring to your proper dressing; 'pease' being general suit and 'queues' being your wig or head-cover.

    An anecdotal one that was shared with me by an instructor of mine is that it refers to proper spelling of Gaelic as there are none of those letters in the language at all.
     
  13. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 SW Washington Member

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    Watch your p's and q's is also attributed to the typesetting trade..Lower case p's and q's appear to be q's and p's in reverse. I guess that is easy to mix them up.
     
  14. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    "Three Squares a day " refers to the British navy's wooden plates that were square boards with sides on them, so the food would not slide off, and "Son of a Gun" came from the same nautical era.
    If a women was having a hard time giving birth aboard a ship, they would fire a cannon near her and the concussion would help push the baby out. or so they thought.
     
  15. zeezee

    zeezee nowheresville Member

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    Hunky Dory? Hungarians were once referred to as hunkys and they were the best small craft builders, hence hunky dorys. If your life relied on a sailing craft, you just had to have a dory built by hungarians.

    W.O.P. Stamped on court papers if you were caught in the US without permission and generally used to describe the large amount of Italians caught With Out Papers.
     
  16. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Referred to the belt of ammo that one particular WW2 fighter plane (Supermarine Spitfire) was loaded with a 27 foot belt for each machine gun. If you emptied your belt you gave them the whole 9 yards

    That's what I've always read before the internet came along and now you can find 20 other theories

    One of my favorites is "As hot as a two dollar pistol"..
     
  17. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I have been told but never read that the word SH*T came from the need to store cargo so it wouldn't get wet on boats back in the wooden ship days. It stood for Ship High In Transit. Not sure if this is true or not but a guy I consider a reputable person relayed the story to me.
     
  18. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    My dad always used the phrase "soup sandwich" alot. As in the person is nuts, stupid, incompetent, etc.
     
  19. lowly monk

    lowly monk Beaverton, Oregon. Just a guy. Bronze Supporter

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    ***** as a three dollar bill.
    Where did that one come from?
     
  20. lowly monk

    lowly monk Beaverton, Oregon. Just a guy. Bronze Supporter

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    Yes, They did ship **** on cargo dry for fires. If it got wet it really stunk.